Top Ten Travel Innovations

Posted: 09/05/2012 14:26 Updated: 10/05/2012 10:09


From jumbo jets to bullet trains, travel has come a long way in a short space of time. Technology now means that we can fly around the globe in less than a day and watch any film we want while doing it. We can access our bank accounts in the most remote corners of the world, navigate our way to anywhere we fancy without using a map, and check onto a flight using nothing more than our mobile phones. We've picked out ten of our favourite travel innovations from the past century... tell us yours and we'll add it!

Loading Slideshow...
  • GPS Sat Nav

    Traditional maps seem somewhat antiquated ever since GPS Sat Navs were released at the beginning of the Noughties. Gone are the days of arguing with the map reader in the passenger seat - nowadays we're shouting at the TomTom instead.

  • Worldwide ATM Machines

    Let's face it: travelling the world became a whole lot easier with the globalised ATM machine. Travellers' cheques and currency exchange bureaux are no longer a necessity: just whip out your card wherever you are and withdraw your local currency. The first Automated Teller Machine was installed in 1958 in the Kingsdale Shopping Centre in Ohio. There are now over 2.2million ATM machines worldwide...

  • The Propeller Aeroplane

    In 1903 the Wright brothers invented the first gas-motored and manned airplane. Fast-forward almost half a decade to 1952 and the first ever jet airliner, the de Havilland Comet, was introduced. The Boeing 707, the first widely successful commercial jet, was in commercial service for more than 50 years from 1958 to 2010.

  • Online Check-In

    Alaska Airlines was the first to offer online check-in back in 1999, and since then all major airlines have introduced the system. Now we can even check in using our mobile phones. It saves a lot of time queueing - or at least that's the theory...

  • The Helicopter

    Fixed-wing aircraft may get all the attention, but it was the helicopter that was the first form of flying invented by man. According to the website, <a href="" target="_hplink">the ancient Chinese had a toy version of it in the 1500s</a> and at around the same time, Leonardo Da Vinci made drawings of a machine looking suspiciously like the modern helicopter. The first piloted helicopter was flown in 1907 by Paul Cornu. Since then, helicopters have been invaluable for firefighting, search and rescue, and military purposes, as well as travel.

  • The Jumbo Jet

    The original Boeing 747 was flown commercially in 1970, arriving at London Heathrow on 22 January carrying 324 passengers. At nearly three times the size of the 707, it revolutionised air travel around the world. Within six months of its launch, the Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet had carried a million passengers, and within a year, nearly 100 jumbos were being operated. It dominated the skies for 30 years, but is now beaten in size by the new Airbus A380, which seats up to 840 passengers.

  • The Hovercraft

    Invented by Christopher Cockerell in 1956, the hovercraft is unique because it is capable of travelling over land, water, mud and ice. Hovercrafts typically hover at heights between 200-600mm and are now used globally as specialised transport for disaster relief, coastguard, military purposes and travel (although the cross-channel hovercraft between England and France was withdrawn for economic reasons, and Sea Cats are taking over).

  • The Car

    While the first form of automobile can be dated back to 1769, it wasn't until the turn of the 20th century that cars became a practical and affordable form of transport. With the arrival of Ford's Model T in 1908, the world waved goodbye to the horse and carriage and headed full-speed toward a new, motor-filled era.

  • The Bullet Train

    The Japanese Shinkansen was the world's first high-speed inter-city train, opening in 1964. Its network now links up all major cities, slashing journey times in half with running speeds of 300km per hour. Countries all over the world including Germany and France now have their own versions of high-speed networks, and there are (controversial) plans to bring it to the UK by 2026...

  • Personalised In-Flight Entertainment

    As the world became smaller, in-flight entertainment got bigger. Whiling away the hours on a long-haul flight would be just too painful without it. It's come a long way since the first version: in 1936, the airship Hindenberg offered passengers a piano, dining room, smoking room and bar on the two-and-a-half day flight between Europe and the USA. It wasn't until 1985 that the first personal audio player was offered to passengers, but since then in-flight entertainment is an all-singing, all dancing combination of films on demand, games, touch screens, seat-to seat chat systems, books, satellite TV...


Filed by Katy Holland  |